Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Better Dead Than Traditionally Wed

This one runs a bit long…


Russia's Global Anti-Libertarian Crusade: How Vladimir Putin's desire for domination and acceptance is scrambling American politics, by Cathy Young and published by Reason.com. 

Yes, it’s all Putin’s fault – even at Reason Magazine.

The beltway mainstream libertarians are coming out in force for war with Russia, and criticizing the libertarians who are against war with Russia.  Their desire for the libertine overwhelms any concerns they might have regarding war with Russia.

Now they don’t say all of this in so many words, but one need not be a high school graduate to see where this is all headed.

Let’s allow Cathy Young to set the stage:

·        NATO expanding to Russia’s borders should not be seen as a threat by Russia, but as an olive branch of peace;
·        The EU should not be viewed as an unaccountable bureaucracy, but an organization dedicated to advancing liberty in Europe;
·        Western involvement in color revolutions (if it even occurs) – even on the doorsteps of Russia – should not be seen as destabilizing, but as advancement of liberal democracy;
·        Creating turmoil throughout the Muslim world should not be viewed as a threat to Russia – which not only directly borders this Muslim world but is also home to something in the order of 10 million Muslims, but instead seen as a move toward expanding freedom.

And how are libertarians who might believe otherwise viewed?

…pro-Russian (or at least anti-anti-Russian) arguments have become fairly common not just among conservatives but among a contingent of libertarians, such as former Rep. Ron Paul and Antiwar.com Editorial Director Justin Raimondo.

And why?

…Ron Paul–style libertarians are inclined to see Russia as a check on U.S. foreign adventurism and Russia hawks as hardcore proponents of the American imperial leviathan.

An incomplete view is the most charitable way I can describe this, although for a libertarian even just this might be reason enough to be “anti-anti-Russian.”

And why are these beltway mainstream libertarians against Russia?  (Emphasis added)

Schindler cites a 2013 speech in which Putin deplored the rejection of "Christian values" by "many Euro-Atlantic countries," defended Russia's right to protect traditional morality, and criticized attempts to export "extreme Western-style liberalism" worldwide. (The main example of Western decadence and liberal extremism was, of course, same-sex marriage.)

Get the picture?  Do you think my title was a joke?  And for this, the West must go to war against Russia.  And any libertarian (or anyone else) who disagrees is, by definition, on Putin’s payroll.  (He must not have my wiring instructions.  I’m still waiting.)

The Death of Democracy

As if – at least as it is currently practiced in much of the West – this would be a bad thing….

The dominant narrative in the U.S. foreign policy establishment and mainstream media casts Putin as the implacable enemy of the Western liberal order…In this narrative, President Donald Trump is…a witting or unwitting instrument of subversion, useful to Putin either as an ideological ally or as an incompetent who will strengthen Russia's hand by destabilizing American democracy.

To the extent democracy is both worthwhile (a position I do not grant) and meaningful, American democracy was destabilized years ago – all on its own doing.  What was the Kennedy assassination but a destabilization of democracy?  What about the lies and false flags intended to drive the people toward a passion for war?  How can there be anything approaching a stable democracy when the mainstream media so blatantly and regularly lie to the public, acting as nothing more than press agents for the state?

At its extremes, the Russian subversion narrative relies on a great deal of conspiratorial thinking. It also far too easily absolves the Western political establishment of responsibility for its failures, from the defeat of European Union supporters in England's Brexit vote to Hillary Clinton's loss in last November's election. Putin makes a convenient boogeyman.

I read this and scratch my head.  Democracy’s failures can be seen in Brexit or in Hillary’s election loss?  What on earth does that even mean?  Was there a vote or wasn’t there?

Is Reason a Neocon Tool?

Nonetheless, there is a real Russian effort to counter American—plus NATO and E.U.—influence…

What libertarian thinks in such terms?  A libertarian would want to see the influence of the American government, NATO, and the EU all countered and reduced.  Bad enough we are under the yoke of unbelievably massive state governments, NATO and the EU are entities of force and coercion even above and outside of the state.  I wish the United States would work to counter NATO and EU influence – how could a libertarian think otherwise?  Thank God someone is doing it.

Of course, one could say that the state – any state – should not be used to counter anything.  OK, I agree.  So, get the US out of NATO; get the US out of military bases around the world.  Let’s keep in mind: on whose borders has NATO encroached since the end of the Cold War?

A Call For More Government Action…

…as opposed to less government action.

What should American policy be toward Putin's Russia?

How about stay out of their business?  How about stay out of their neighborhood?  How about no more destabilizations of its neighbors?  How about that for an American policy?

No, not at Reason.

While "democracy promotion" in countries with no homegrown liberal tradition is a project likely to remain discredited for the foreseeable future…

Talk about an understatement.  Have you seen the results?  But, there is a bigger question: under what aspect of libertarian theory does the idea of “democracy promotion” by one government toward another country fall?

…support for genuine grassroots pro-freedom aspirations in countries that look to America for leadership is a far more complicated matter.

Under what aspect of libertarian theory does the idea of “support for genuine grassroots pro-freedom aspirations” by one government toward another region fall?

Ukraine, Georgia, and even the Baltic states may not be paragons of liberal capitalism today. Yet if they were bullied into a return to Russian vassalage, it would be a net loss for liberty and, arguably, for America as well.

Isn’t it their business?  Does it do any good for such smaller countries to rely on the good graces of some government five thousand miles away while at the same time being antagonistic toward its own neighbors?  How much liberty has been lost by those in the Ukraine today because of this?

Putin’s Warped Thinking About the West

What brought Putin’s ideas on?

Some Russia watchers, including Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa in a March 2017 article for The New Yorker, trace this change in attitude to the war in Iraq….

Putin's turn against the West is far more likely to have been precipitated by perceived infringements on Russia's sphere of influence—especially Ukraine's Orange Revolution, which began in November 2004….

Vitaly Portnikov argued that Putin was pushed toward even more hardline anti-Western views by the Arab Spring, which he also attributed to Western subversion….

The Russian president certainly seems to have been rattled by the brutal death of the deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011, which Putin publicly blamed on NATO.

A pretty damning list of the west’s transgressions, from a libertarian (or merely human) perspective.

And what was Russia’s part?

Earlier this year, prosecutors in Montenegro charged that a thwarted violent coup in the fall of 2016 had been engineered by two Russian military intelligence officers with the help of paramilitary Russian and Serbian nationalists.

A total of two…yes, two…military intelligence officers. 

I rest my case…wait…wait a minute.  Young wrote those words, not me.  Whose side is she on?

Pointing Out the Speck in Russia’s Eye

While missing the log…

[The Kremlin] has a global propaganda machine and a network of political operatives dedicated to cultivating far-right and sometimes far-left groups in Europe and elsewhere.

Is there any government in the world that meddles more in the business of other countries than does the government of the United States?  Non-governmental organizations by the hundreds, in every country of the world?  By the way, what is a non-governmental organization?  They are, partially or significantly, funded by the government, after all.  Does the funding come with no strings?  No proposal of mission had to be made to secure the funding?

Of course, for many libertarians, the post–Cold War international order that Putin seeks to undo is itself of dubious value.

You think?  What has this “post-Cold War international order” brought other than war and chaos?  Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen.  What has this order done but drastically increase tension in Central and Eastern Europe?  What has it given after a 65 year Cold War on the Korean Peninsula but the opportunity for a massive hot war?  What has it offered other than the biggest, most catastrophic financial bubble known to history?

Nothing.  Well, besides gay marriage, men using women’s toilets, a universe of new gender pronouns.

Yet for all the valid criticisms of the Western liberal establishment and its foreign and domestic policies, there is little doubt that the ascendancy of hardcore far-right or far-left authoritarianism would lead to a less freedom-friendly world.

It really depends on how you define “freedom-friendly.”  Staying alive by reducing tension and minimizing the chance of war is the most “freedom-friendly” policy that I can think of.  The pushback cannot be characterized as only coming from the “hardcore far-right or far-left.”  In any case, look again at this post-Cold War international order”; let’s be glad someone is pushing back against it. 

Still, most Republicans in Washington don't share the party base's newfound affection for the Russian president: A spending bill unveiled by the Republican-controlled Congress includes at least $100 million for a Countering Russian Influence Fund, intended to support "civil society organizations and other entities" in Europe and Central Asia.

This bill is one of hundreds of similar such bills approved by the US government, totaling countless tens of billions of dollars; these bills officially support US government meddling in the affairs of other countries. 

I will guess Russia hasn’t spent $100 million in total since the fall of the Soviet Union on such things.  They can’t afford it.

War is Preferred…

…if the path toward complete destruction of traditional Western values is thwarted.

…the Kremlin positions itself as a defender of tradition and sovereignty against the godless progressivism and the migrant hordes overtaking the West.

I don’t think they are just “positioning” themselves this way.  Is this not the way Russia is acting?  Is there evidence that counters this?  More importantly, is this a bad thing?

Tradition vs. progressivism: someone or something is going to make the laws.  We have seen the consequences of man-made laws that came with progressivism; we have also seen the possibility of all men (including the king) truly under the law.

Sovereignty?  Someone or something will always be sovereign.  No matter how centralized or decentralized a community, a community will have a sovereign.  Shall NATO be sovereign?  The EU?  I say the lower the level the better, which is why I support every move toward decentralization – be it Brexit, secessionist movements in Europe, even Calexit. 

All such movements increase options; I would like to see about 1.5 billion options (one per household), but I will settle for a few thousand.

As to those migrant hordes?  First of all, there wouldn’t be any of those migrant hordes had not the United States government destroyed their homes.  Second, they are overtaking the west…am I missing something?

Most importantly, is this a reason to threaten global nuclear war?  Because we know where this road leads.

[Former National Security Agency analyst John R.] Schindler asserts that the Russian leader's holy-war ideology sees the West as "an implacable foe" of Russia and her Orthodox faith…

Yes.  Is there something faulty with Putin’s view in this regard?

[Dubbed “Putin’s Rasputin,” Alexander] Dugin argues that human rights-based liberalism is totalitarian, since it wants to impose itself everywhere and allows no alternatives, while his traditionalism is genuinely pluralistic, since it respects all cultures, political systems, and beliefs—as long as they make no claim to universalism.

The same ideology for all, all men (women, whatever gender pronoun you want) created equal…everywhere.  Nice sounding words…until they are put into practice.  It is the goal of leftists (and left-libertarians, but I repeat myself) everywhere.  We see what happens when they put this into practice.  All individualism destroyed; all private property under the direction or control of the state. 

You cannot get more totalitarian than this.  Local human rights-based liberalism leads to property violations; global human rights-based liberalism will only be achieved by war.  But this is preferable to the defense of traditional Western cultural values; just ask Cathy Young and Reason.

Even his 2013 speech lamenting Western moral decline was delivered at the Valdai Club, Russia's Davos-style annual hangout for domestic and foreign intellectual and political elites. That's an odd venue for an "Orthodox Jihadist" diatribe.

When someone speaks of defending gay marriage, it is liberty and equality; when someone speaks of defending Christian values, it is a “diatribe.”

It is only an odd venue when one looks at it through the lens of progressivism that has poisoned the West.  There was a time when the elites of the West supported tradition; it was a time of stable law – a pretty good characteristic to have in law, even if the law is not perfectly libertarian.

And even those remarks also praised secular patriotism and religious diversity, and called for openness to "the best ideas and practices of the East and the West."

How could this zealot Putin say such things?  Might one consider that the world is not as black and white as Young suggests?  We are forced to think in terms of Hegelian dialectics – these are the two choices, this is the range of allowable discussion. 

Putin is saying nothing more than this: different cultures have different cultures; there are positive ways to expose these differences to others, and there are negative ways to do it.

The West through its progressive, democrat-exporting agenda has been pursuing the negative way.  But if the West’s way must be given up, Cathy Young prefers war:

Economic sanctions—particularly when they target the Russian political elite and its properties abroad, as opposed to targeting ordinary Russian consumers—can be more effective than they are often believed to be.

What a joke.  This is war, and it is war against the common people.  Who suffers in North Korea?  Is it the leader or is it the people?

Does Young really believe that sanctions can be designed to avoid impacting common people and only effect well-connected multi-billionaires?  They have wealth, homes, assets, connections in dozens of countries around the world.  They have far more experience at dodging the G-man than does any G-man at finding them.

Sanctions always and everywhere end up impacting the common man.


That view manages to ignore not only Russia's coziness with Iran…

Try it this way:

That view manages to ignore not only Washington’s coziness with Saudi Arabia

That view manages to ignore not only Washington’s coziness with Israel

Hurts those politically correct, beltway sensitivities, doesn’t it.

In Putin's perfect world, Russia would have an authoritarian regime that secures his own hold on power and ill-gotten wealth and treats smaller nearby countries as vassal states—while also being recognized as a major player on the world stage and a member of the club of free nations.  These somewhat incompatible goals are reflected in Russia's schizophrenic official rhetoric…

Let’s try it this way:

In Washington’s perfect world, it would have an authoritarian regime that secures its own hold on power and ill-gotten wealth and treats smaller nearby countries as vassal states—while also being recognized as a major player on the world stage and the sole leader of the club of free nations.  These somewhat incompatible goals are reflected in the West’s schizophrenic official rhetoric…

Which of these two better describes the situation of the world since the end of the Cold War?

But it’s all Russia’s fault.


  1. I know we non-Beltarians are wary of them. However, I have found Gene Healy at Cato to be quite consistent. Does anyone else here in flyover country read him and wonder how he fits into the Kochtopus?

    1. I've never heard of him. Doug Bandow is also at CATO and is great on foreign policy.

  2. Reason.com, National Review's wannabe bitch.

  3. On the whole, Reason Magazine may have begun as libertarian, but no more, nor has it been for many years, with the exception of a handful of its contributors. This libertarian didn't renew her subscription some twenty plus years ago.

  4. As usual, a thoughtful, passionate criticism of the unthoughtful direction American and even nominally libertarian public policy is heading. I especially appreciate the central role that culture occupies in your political reasoning. I attempted to raise questions about how it came about that the current values of the prevailing elite are so at odds with the values almost everybody took for granted when I was growing up, in my "Smoking, Same Sex Marriage and Vladimir Putin: Reflections on Dr. Carl Schmitt", published in The Independent Review, summer 2015. Nothing seems to inflame political progressives or their thoughtless acolytes more than the casual observation that their cutting edge goal now amounts to be making the world safe for transgender bathrooms. I am sure, given the Permanent Revolution entailed in political correctness prescriptions, nothing being more limitless or perverse than the imagination of the left regarding the ever expanding domain of the hate crime, that, no more than five years from now, transgenderism will seem, by contrast to ever evolving perceptions of injustice and subsequent demands for equality, a modest goal. Having struggled to free myself from the Cold War anti-Russian prejudices indoctrinated in me while I was yet a child, I am amused, and frightened, by the hysteria of the war party embodied on the political left. Please continue your struggle for political and moral sanity!

    1. Thank you, William. From what you write, you must also be familiar with Angelo Codevilla. If not, his writing can be found at the Claremont Review of books. I also believe Lew Rockwell and Tom Woods have each interviewed him.

    2. I echo his sentiments. Excellent article. Fantastic work you are doing.

    3. Coming soon: trans-species marriage. NY Times best seller: "My life with Lassie". Features long explicit sex scenes. Required reading in all middle schools.

  5. "I read this and scratch my head. Democracy’s failures can be seen in Brexit or in Hillary’s election loss? What on earth does that even mean? Was there a vote or wasn’t there?"

    This is a silly comment. The previous quote to which this refers clearly states the 'political establishment's ... failures', not 'democracy's failures'. Brexit and Trump's election victory were undoubtedly failures of establishment politics.

    1. So I understand your point: there is a political establishment in the west that has "failed" if they do not get the election outcome that they desire.

      So far am I with you?

      Now, this political establishment is doing all it can to overturn the election results.

      Sound about right so far?

      And for this, Putin is the authoritarian who is the enemy of democracy.

      Did I get your point correctly?

    2. No. My point was only that your comment was incorrect about the failure represented by Brexit and Trump. The paragraph you cite for criticism from the Cathy Young article is generally correct and well reasoned. Putin does indeed make a convenient bogey man on which to lay the blame for the establishments electoral failures.

      I thought I would bring it to your attention since the rest of the article is really great.

    3. It is difficult to reconcile "This is a silly comment" with "since the rest of the article is really great."

      Now you're telling me "silly" was meant as a compliment.

      Thank you...I guess.

  6. Thank God for your always focussed thoughts and criticism regarding the thoughtless direction that American, sometimes nominally libertarian, public policy is taking. Having freed myself from Cold War anti-Russian prejudices indoctrinated in me while yet a child, I am frightened, and amused, to see the left's war party's anti-Russian hysteria, and its affect on public discourse. I have no doubt about the roots of the hatred for Vladimir Putin: nothing inflames the wrath of the Progressives more than an unapologetically Christian nationalism. When the cutting edge goal of the left can be reduced to making the world safe for transgender rest rooms, it is clear how petty, and insane, the self loathing aspirations of our own elite are. Given the limitless perversity of human imagination and given the condition of cultural Permanent Revolution we are in, I have no doubt that future perceptions of hitherto unnoticed injustice will lead to novel demands for equality by contrast with which, transgender demands will appear as relatively modest . On the bright side, consider the expanding job opportunities in the area of Thought Policing. I myself reflected upon the transvaluation of values that took place not that long ago in "Smoking, Same Sex Marriages and Vladimir Putin: Reflections on Dr. Carl Schmitt", Independent Review (summer 2015). The question that occupies me is how values taking for granted for so long, when now espoused are condemned as evil: the judgment that monogamous relationships are natural, for instance. Keep up the struggle: your articles go to the heart of what is wrong in the contemporary western world, and provoke thinking about how to correct that condition.

  7. BM-

    Excellent take down of Ms. Young who "left" libertarianism long ago.

    Did you peruse the comments? The vast majority of the commentariat rejected Ms. Young's position. I make this latter point for the benefit of the likes of UC and others.

    Liberty Mike

  8. "Is Reason a Neocon Tool?"

    To ask the question...

  9. "1980: Born in Moscow, the capital of what was then the Soviet Union, Ekaterina Jung was 17 when her Jewish family emigrated to the United States in 1980."

    Gee, what a surprise.

  10. Makes me glad I canceled my subscription to Reason when they started to sound like Cato...

  11. Bionic Mosquito,
    Come to the Glib side...
    p.s. glibertarians.com

  12. This reminds me of the National Review hit on Rothbard in 1979. I’m still looking to get some of that BIG MONEY.


    Rothbard responded here:


    If you post the Reason link to the 1979 Rothbard response on Facebook, the Cathy Young/Putin cover appears.

  13. Great smackdown of crazy cathy. She is trotted out to attack real libertarians in the same way the media uses mccain or graham to attack those opposed to spying or war.

  14. How did Rothbard respond on Facebook in 1979?